The Small World Initiative is an innovative undergraduate research collaborative that presents a unique combination of science education, scientific research, and science diplomacy. Using authentic scientific research as a driver, this initiative focuses on addressing a worldwide health threat, the diminishing supply of effective antibiotics. Students will contribute to discovering new antibiotics from soil bacteria in their local environment. The research course will provide the venue for the investigation of biological and chemical soil diversity. It will also be a platform from which to teach a number of different biological concepts in the context of four distinct introductory courses. The goal of this project is to increase retention in college, inspire students to pursue science, and train future scientists.